Burger King's Flopped Table Service Missed The Mark On Fast Food Menus

Burger King food tray
Burger King food tray - Horacio Villalobos/Getty Images

In order to stay in business, companies must regularly have successful ideas. However, that doesn't mean corporations never make missteps. With intentions to provide higher-end dining, Burger King tested a tableside food service for two years in the early 1990s. According to a Burger King spokesperson at the time, the idea was born from fan's desires. "Historically when our consumers think of fast food, they think of breakfast and lunch, and we've listened to our consumers who say they really want a different dining experience at dinner," Cory Zywotow said to The Associated Press. In reality, this might have been one of the dumbest things Burger King has ever done.

The decision on how to conduct the service was made by each individual franchise owner. Each night from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., participating restaurants swapped their focus from the usual favorites to dinner baskets, which employees would deliver to customers tableside. This might have been the idea's biggest flaw -- some of the options weren't exactly par for the course for Burger King. They included a Whopper Dinner Basket, Chicken Dinner Basket, Steak Sandwich Dinner Basket, and a Shrimp Dinner Basket. Some baskets, such as the chicken and shrimp dinners, came with a bread roll and each option allowed choices between fries or a baked potato, and salad or coleslaw. Though the service and its unusual meal options didn't last forever, the concept wasn't entirely flawed.

Read more: McDonald's Menu Items That Even The Staff Won't Eat

The Process Promoted Relaxation

Burger King employee smiling
Burger King employee smiling - Horacio Villalobos/Getty Images

The menu may have strayed too far from the norm to thoroughly delight Burger King fans, but the process of providing table service itself seemed to run smoothly. Unlike a full-service restaurant, customers still placed their order at the front counter rather than via menu at a table. In about five to seven minutes, an employee would deliver food to the table, which was correctly indicated with a customer-specific number. Guests were served popcorn while they waited, and to entertain children, workers would give out crayons and paper liners.

"Dinner customers aren't as rushed. They want to relax. And, often they want to bring their families. But, with the economy the way it is, it's tough for families with children to eat out," spokesperson Michael Evans said to The Morning Call shortly after the news broke. Some stores even fancified the experience with different lighting, music, and tableware.

Now a thing of the past, the best way to revisit the concept is by watching one of Burger King's 1992 commercials. Now available on YouTube, one advertisement showed the ordering process step by step, while another equated the food baskets to "shooting hoops" in true '90s fashion. Perhaps if Burger King had focused on burgers and chicken specifically, table service might have survived, or even thrived.

Read the original article on Mashed.